In terms of research and treatment, Charité is one of the top university hospitals in the field of neurological disorders. It offers a distinctly translational and interdisciplinary approach, and many excellent neuroscience-based research projects that manage to closely integrate patient-oriented and basic research.
Successful collaborations between neuroscience researchers and experts from cardiology and immunology reflect this translational approach, and include research projects into complex disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
NeuroCure – for a better understanding of the nervous system
One of Charité's most successful ventures in the field of neuroscience is the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, a research consortium established as part of the German Excellence Initiative, and in receipt of both federal and state funding. NeuroCure's main aim is the transfer of knowledge from basic science to clinical application (bench to bedside), but also back to the laboratory (bedside to bench). Its overall research focus centers on the study of neurological disorders such as stroke and epilepsy, as well as other disorders affecting brain development. NeuroCure researchers are also committed to mental health research, studying conditions from autism and depression to schizophrenia. Over 45 NeuroCure working groups are involved in research aimed at gaining a better understanding of how the nervous system works. All of these are based on a translational approach, and set up in such a way to ensure overall responsibility for the relevant research area is shared between a basic science researcher and a practicing physician. In order to speed up translation of research developments into clinical practice, Charité set up the NeuroCure Clinical Research Center (NCRC). Through clinical trials, which are either initiated by NeuroCure researchers or industrial partners, the NCRC is able to offer patients access to new treatments and diagnostic methods.
NeuroCure is a joint initiative of Charité and its two constituent universities (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin), and three highly prestigious, non-university-based establishments. These include the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch (MDC), the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), and the German Rheumatism Research Center (DRFZ). These partners work towards neuroscience-based research endeavors becoming more closely intertwined. They also actively promote the expansion of neuroscience research capacity by launching, and providing support to, new professorships and groups of young researchers, and by providing researchers with highly modern infrastructure.
Excellence in stroke research
One of Charité's neuroscience-based research facilities is the Center for Stroke Research Berlin (CSB). Co-founded by Charité and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in 2005, the CSB aims to reduce the frequency of stroke and stroke-related mortality. Every year, approximately 270,000 people in Germany have a stroke. As an integrated research and treatment center, the CSB has been receiving funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research since 2008, and has been able to produce high-quality patient-oriented and clinical research into stroke. Physicians and researchers are concentrating their efforts on three major topic areas, namely, how to protect the brain, how to prevent complications, and how to achieve the functional rehabilitation of people with stroke. Another constant focus of their work is to develop and/or refine new treatment methods.
In an effort to improve conditions for research, CSB has introduced its own organizational structures. One example is the 'Trial Team', also referred to as the 'Study Team', which supports the planning and conduct of stroke-based research studies. The Trial Team has specific expertise in the management of clinical trials, and coordinates these on behalf of researchers and partners from industry. Our ultra-modern 3T MRI scanner, which is housed in the immediate vicinity of the Stroke Unit (the treatment unit for patients with acute stroke), plays a significant role in stroke-related research studies. This device enables physicians to accurately measure blood flow inside the brain of people who present with symptoms of stroke. In the area of health care delivery, the CSB has an active role in the Berlin Stroke Alliance (BSA), a network of stroke care providers originally established by Charité. By facilitating the exchange of knowledge between the different agencies involved in stroke care, this network of stroke care providers is now successfully working towards improving the treatment of people with stroke. The BSA has been registered as a non-profit organization since early 2015.